Carpe Diem

TelaDoc Market Solution: The Doctors Is Always In

Health care entrepreneurs working outside the traditional health insurance payment system are using telephone, e-mail, text messaging and innovative computer software to make medical care more accessible and convenient for patients, according to a new study by the National Center for Policy Analysis titled “Convenient Care and Telemedicine.”

Approximately 1 million patients are now subscribers to a nationwide service operated by TelaDoc Medical Services. For a low $35 consultation fee, enrollees can talk to a doctor by phone, any time day or night.

Conclusion:Telemedicine provides important new opportunities to improve health care in the 21st century. Telemedicine is safe, efficient and convenient for both patients and providers. It is often the method preferred by patients who demand timely access to their doctors. And it is a method endorsed by a growing number of doctors who understand its potential. Other industries have taken advantage of information technology to benefit consumers in numerous ways. It is time that health care does the same.
Carpe Diem

Online Shopping in Nov. At All-Time Record Highs

“Cyber Monday” sales set a new all-time single day record for e-commerce sales of $733 million, according to comScore, representing a 21% increase over last year. While Monday represented the first time ever more than $700 million was spent in a single day by online shoppers, comScore said that it expects spending on some days may exceed $800 million in the coming weeks.

Further, online shopping for the month of November so far is also up significantly from the same period last year by 17%, see chart above, and online shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday are also up by more than 20% from last year.

What recession?

Carpe Diem

Multiple Refinancing Contributed to Mortgage Crisis

The chart above is from an article in today’s Detroit News, illustrating how one Detroit homeowner got into foreclosure trouble: Ethel Cochran refinanced her home 7 different times within a ten-year period at adjustable rates, pulling out more and more equity each time.

30-year fixed-rate mortgages were available in 1987 for about 10%, which would mean that Ethel’s original monthly house payment was only about $83 (principal and interest), and her mortgage balance today would be less than $6,000 with only ten years left to pay off the mortgage. Now she has a $116,000 mortgage that she can’t pay, and is being evicted from her house.

What happened to the old-fashioned idea of making payments on your original mortgage, paying it off and having a “mortgage burning party?”

There’s a perception that it was first-time howeowners who got in trouble with subprime adjustable-rate mortgages, but this story suggests that there were also many existing homeowners who also got in trouble with multiple refinancings, and have probably contributed to the current subprime mortgage crisis.

Carpe Diem

Buy Houses in Detroit For $250, Monthly Pmt = $1

You can go to Realtor.com and search for homes for sale in any city in the U.S., and you can specify a certain price range. If you search for Detroit homes for sale between $0 and $1,000, you’ll find that there are 74 homes for sale in that price range, including the bank owned bargain above for $250, with estimated monthly payments of $1. There are 4 homes for sale for $1. If you search for Detroit houses for less than $5,000, you’ll have almost 1,000 homes to choose from!

See previous post on Detroit houses here.

Carpe Diem

Bank Stocks Outperform Market in The Long Run

Bob Wright wrote in a recent comment “If you look at financial stocks over any meaningful period – like 10 years or more, they kill the DJIA and the S&P 500. They even out-performed over the last 5 years until this recent bit of turmoil.”

The chart above (click to enlarge) shows the performance of NASDAQ Bank Stocks (blue line) vs. the NASDAQ Composite (green) and the S&P500 (red) from 1990 to 2007. Consider that $100,000 invested in the NASDAQ Banks stocks in 1990 would have grown to $1,137,000 today, vs. $782,292 today if you had invested $100,000 in 1990 in the NASDAQ Composite, and only $469,812 if you had invested in the S&P500. In other words, you would have almost $700,000 more today from your $100,000 investment in NASDAQ Bank Stocks in 1990 compared to the same initial investment in the S&P500.

Bob is right.

Carpe Diem

Forcing The Poor To Buy Rich Man’s Toys

Closing sweatshops and forcing Western labor and environmental standards down poor people’s throats in the third world does nothing to elevate them out of poverty. Instead, it forces poor people to buy a lot of rich man’s toys, like clean air, clean water, and leisure time. If clean air and leisure time don’t strike you as extravagant luxuries, that’s because Americans – even the poorest of us – are so rich these days that we’ve forgotten what true poverty is like. But chances are your great-great-grandparents could have told you what it’s like: when you’re truly poor, you can’t afford things like clean air. Nobody in 1870 America worried about the environment.

~Rochester economist Steven Landsburg in “More Sex is Safer Sex”

Carpe Diem

Barefoot Indian Steelworkers: “Help” Is On The Way

I was reminded of this cartoon while reading some of the comments on the Indian-made manhole covers in NYC.

Let me suggest an alternative caption:

“Help is on the way, barefoot Indian steelworkers. We’re cancelling all orders for Indian manhole covers in the U.S., and we’re also going to help shut down all of those exploitive, steel foundries in your country that fail to meet the safety standards of advanced economies like the U.S. that are 50 years ahead of you.”

Carpe Diem

Moving In And Out of Those Income Brackets

Significant Income Mobility: Quintiles Not Closed Clubs


Great column today by Thomas Sowell on That “Top One Percent,” here are a couple excerpts:

Americans in the top 1%, like Americans in most income brackets, are not there permanently, despite being talked about and written about as if they are an enduring “class” — especially by those who have overdosed on the magic formula of “race, class and gender,” which has replaced thought in many intellectual circles.

At the highest income levels, people are especially likely to be transient at that level. Recent data from the Internal Revenue Service show that more than half the people who were in the top one percent in 1996 were no longer there in 2005.

Among the top one-hundredth of one percent, three-quarters of them were no longer there at the end of the decade.

These are not permanent classes but mostly people at current income levels reached by spikes in income that don’t last.

Among corporate CEOs, those who cash in stock options that they have accumulated over the years get a big spike in income the year that they cash them in. This lets critics quote inflated incomes of the top-paid CEOs for that year. Some of these incomes are almost as large as those of big-time entertainers — who are never accused of “greed,” by the way.

Most Americans in the top fifth, the bottom fifth, or any of the fifths in between, do not stay there for a whole decade, much less for life. And most certainly do not remain permanently in the top one percent or the top one-hundredth of one percent.

Most income statistics do not follow given individuals from year to year, the way Internal Revenue statistics do. But those other statistics can create the misleading illusion that they do by comparing income brackets from year to year, even though people are moving in and out of those brackets all the time.